PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump claimed Sunday that the Wall Street Journal deliberately misquoted him as saying he probably has a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The White House is disputing the newspaper’s story from an interview last week in which Trump claimed some success in countering the nuclear threat from North Korea and said he could be open to talks under the right conditions. He claimed good relationships with other Asian leaders dealing with North Korea. The Journal quoted Trump as then saying, “I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
“Obviously I didn’t say that,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning. “I said ‘I’d have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un,’ a big difference,” Trump continued. “Fortunately we now record conversations with reporters ...”
In a second tweet, Trump finished the thought. “ ... and they knew exactly what I said and meant,” Trump wrote. “They just wanted a story. FAKE NEWS!”
The president’s accusation echoed one from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Saturday evening. She posted the White House recording of the session.
In an article posted shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, the Journal stood by its report and said ground rules for the interview Thursday had included a pledge from the White House that recordings made by both reporters and the White House would be used only for purposes of transcribing the session.
“The Journal stands by what it reported,” the article said.
“After the White House challenged the Journal’s transcription and accuracy of the quote in a story, The Journal decided to release the relevant portion of the audio. The White House then released its audio version of the contested segment,” the newspaper wrote.
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Earlier on Saturday evening, Sanders had tweeted that “Fake news is at it again!” and accused the newspaper of “falsely quoting” the president.
“President Trump said, I’D probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. I’D — I’D — I’D — NOT I!” Sanders wrote.
Listening to the recordings, it is difficult to tell whether Trump said “I” or “I’d.”
Elsewhere in the interview with several Journal reporters, Trump asked to be treated “fairly,” to which a reporter replied, “We always do.” Trump would not say whether he has ever spoken to Kim, whom he has mocked as “Little Rocket Man.”
The episode follows controversy over a White House version of Trump remarks on immigration last week. News video and audio recordings of Trump’s freewheeling exchange with lawmakers Tuesday show that he agreed after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked whether the president would support a “clean DACA bill.”
She was proposing a legislative fix to address the fate of the nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers.” Their work permits are set to expire March 5 because of Trump’s decision to revoke President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
“Yeah, I would like — I would like to do that,” Trump said, prompting Republicans in the meeting to gently suggest that the president needed to be precise about what he would agree to.
The official White House transcript omitted the line. A White House official said that any omission from the transcript was unintentional and that the context of the conversation was clear. The White House put out a corrected transcript the following day.
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Elsewhere in the session, Trump says he won’t agree to any immigration legislation that does not include additional security measures and an end to the visa lottery system and “chain” immigration based on family relationships.